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GET LAMP: Don Woods Interview

Published August 12, 2006

It can be very harrowing to do interviews with one of the people responsible for the very thing your documentary is about, but in this case, it was a joy and a delight.

Don Woods took the original ADVENT program by Will Crowther, added a bunch of features, puzzles, descriptions and other work, and then released it to the world, helping to spawn its continued 30 year success as a game and recreation for generations of computer users. While Will Crowther also had gaming elements in the program, Woods added enough of what we consider canonical aspects of adventure games to warrant resting a lot of the success of the work on his shoulders.

I was scheduled to interview him in July of 2006, but illness caused me to cancel my trip; I asked for a rescheduling in August and he quickly agreed.

The interview went very well (2+ hours!) and we covered many different parts of the program, including his happening upon the program, some of how he worked on it, changes he made, his thoughts on puzzles and design, and what he's been up to in the intervening years, including the INTERCAL language and playing on Everquest.

One of the most personally fulfilling moments came for me at the end of the interview, when Mr. Woods mentioned that he had a map/poster that he'd gotten his hands on many years ago, which he still had framed. When he brought it out, I was floored; this was a poster I'd been looking for for 20 years.

In 1985, I saw an advertisement for this poster in an issue of Compuserve's catalog/magazine which went to subscribers and people who'd signed up for "more information" about the service. Being young and without ready cash, I'd never bought it and regretted it immediately... and here it was, in the flesh! Another chapter closed happily in my life.

Producer Jason Scott Sadofsky
Production Company Jason Scott Sadofsky
Language English


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